The NSW pricing regulator IPART has raised what it considers to be the “fair value” of solar electricity exported from rooftop installations back into the grid, but has fallen sort of industry claims it should be on a 1:1 basis. IPART says its new range for 2012/13 is 7.7c-12.9c/kWh. This is higher than the 5.2c-10.3c/kWh range for 2011/12, mostly because of the introduction of the carbon price and its impact on wholesale prices. The fair value range is merely a guide for consumers, and energy retailers are not required to pay that sum. Most offer around 6c/kWh as a voluntary payment. Some offer nothing, although all will be required to publish their offerings on a web set so that customers can shop around.
IPART said consumers could still save around $330 per year on the electricity bill if they installed a 1.5kW system. However, it defended its decision to offer a fair value range below a 1:1 calculation on the retail price on the basis that electricity retailers still incur certain costs, such as network costs, on the electricity exported to the grid by PV customers.
Ray Wills, from the Sustainable Energy Association, said a fair commercial price should be paid and should be close to the price being charged for electricity supply – simply because the electricity is generated in the daytime when the market price tells us electricity has a higher value. “it is not clear if IPART have considered the timing of electricity generation and the value of electricity at the time of generation,” Wills said. “Any valuation must reflect the time of production and the realised value of that electricity in the market, and ‘fair and reasonable’ tariffs should move closer to this price point.”
PacHydro plans 500MW of wind for Brazil industry
Australian renewables group Pacific Hydro has revealed plans to develop yet more wind in Brazil, this time targeting the South American nation’s growing industrial demand for energy. Bloomberg reports that the company plans to build 500MW of wind farms in Brazil, and will sell some of the electricity to Brazilian iron-ore giant Vale, with additional buyers possibly including other industrial clients seeking to cut their energy costs. “About 10 per cent of our business is in Brazil now and we want to boost that to 30 per cent” when the planned wind farms are complete in about three to five years, Rob Grant, chief executive officer of Melbourne-based Pacific Hydro, told Bloomberg in an interview on Thursday. Pacific Hydro is already developing two wind farms with 140 megawatts of capacity for Vale in the northeastern state of Rio Grande do Norte. Grant said the company had received inquiries from other potential energy customers in Brazil since announcing those projects last week. The remaining 360MW of projects will be structured similarly to those it’s building for Vale, which agreed to take a 50 per cent stake in the wind farms and buy all their output, he said.
eBay data centre Blooms green
Online giant eBay has joined the tech sector’s (gradual) migration to greener data centers, announcing plans to install 30 large-scale Bloom Energy fuel cells – called Bloom Energy Servers – which are powered by biogas. CleanTechnica reports that the fuel cells will have the combined capacity of 6MW and will be able to provide enough power to operate eBay’s data center – while power for backup will still be sourced from the grid. The facility – which is expected to be operational by mid-2013 – will be the largest non-utility fuel cell installation in the US, and is expected to serve about 15 per cent of eBay’s total energy needs. eBay’s other renewables efforts – the Bloom deal being its biggest yet – include a 650kW solar array and a 500-kilowatt Bloom fuel cell installation at its San Jose headquarters, as well as a 100kW solar array at its Denver data center. The company has also recently installed a 665kW solar array on the roof of its LEED-certified Utah data center.
Cleantech comp attracts record numbers
Entries closed on Wednesday for the second Australian Clean Technologies Competition, having attracted a record 103 companies to register for the innovation contest that is linked to the US-based Cleantech Open. Launched last month, the competition aims to shine a light on Australian innovators taking advantage of business opportunities to reduce energy and resource consumption. “We were looking for Australia’s best cleantech start-ups and we have been amazed at the depth of innovation that is out there,” said John O’Brien, managing director at Australian CleanTech. O’Brien said that some of the entries looked to be world leading technologies, and that he was excited to get the Top 30 together for the mentoring part of the program. “Clean technology is not about saving the world … it is using technology to make processes and industries more efficient and thus saving them money by offering more sensible options” O’Brien said.
Entrants in the contest have come from around Australia: NSW being the most heavily represented state with 41; Victoria – 22; SA and Qld both with 16; WA – 7; and Tassie with one. In total, they have raised nearly $100m for their businesses so far, with about 25 per cent of this coming from external funders. From this field, up to 30 Competition semi-finalists will qualify for an intensive, tailored mentoring program – ‘Cleantech Business Accelerator Program’ on commercialisation pathways, business modeling, venture capital funding solutions and successful pitching. The outright 2012 Competition winner will represent Australia at the Global Cleantech Competition in the US in November.